“If God is real, it is your job to prove it to me.” Those were the words of a former friend who fled the faith like a house fire. He said that, if God and the Christian doctrine were real, then as a believer, it was my job to prove it.
I did not respond. Because this man was wrong.
My friend, whom I’ll call Craig, whittled faith, debate, and reality into a too-simplistic courtroom drama. The truth is much more complicated.
As Christians, we not only want to share God with the world, we’re commanded to at the end of Matthew. Yet sometimes we’re crippled by the thought that it’s up to us to prove God’s existence and/or goodness to the world. Sometimes we think it ourselves, sometimes the world demands it.
But it’s wrong. You don’t need to prove Christianity to anybody. Why not? Three reasons.
1. Lack of Proof is Not Lack of Truth
I said my friend whittled the matter into an oversimplistic court case. If you cannot prove your case, the other side will win.
But does that make the other side right? Not automatically.
What if a convicted man is innocent, but the evidence is against him? Does that mean he’s guilty? Not at all, only that he can’t prove it.
What if God is real, but the Christian is a poor speaker? Or new and untrained? Or raised with ridiculous ideas? Or is just unwise? Or…what if a supernatrual being does not follow natural order, thus defying the usual proofs?
If any of these scenarios is true, the court case falls apart. The Christian loses the case, but reality remains unchanged. So Christians need not fall for the trap that our inability to prove God somehow disproves him.
Yet wasn’t that my friend’s point? That I needed to become some perfect prove-er, and that if I didn’t, his refusal to convert was my fault? Is a good Christian marked by perfect apologetics?
Well, no. Because…
2. The Other Side Must Listen
I remember watching a clip of a news report where Nixon’s vice president spoke to an anti-war activist. The VP asked, in essence, “How can you condone the violence of activists?” She replied, “I don’t condone it, but I understand why the situation would make them so angry.” The VP then said, “But why do you condone it?” He wasn’t listening.
Just because you’re right doesn’t mean the other side will listen.
Remember my friend Craig? The big reason I didn’t try to prove God to him was because he was so comically anti-Christian that he could’ve been a God’s Not Dead villain. To be fair, he’d been badly hurt by the church, as happens too often. But the point is that he got hives from the mere mention of God. Such a person is too biased to hear any “proofs” of God. They hate the very idea of God, and won’t concede at any point. Such people usually claim to be open-minded, that they’re objective and neutral, and that the right information alone will change their minds. They delude themselves, as if bias were something only religious people have.
Now let me be careful here. I’m not saying these people are unsavable or pure evil. Only biased. We Christians are not allowed to hate anybody. However, when someone hates what you’re selling, they steel themselves against it, no matter how open-minded they claim to be.
Does that mean we should never preach to these kinds of people? No. Jesus preached to the Pharisees. I’m only saying don’t be too surprised if they don’t become converts. And certainly don’t let them make you feel guilty about not being able to change them. Use wisdom and discernment.
3. Jesus Is Delighted In You Either Way
Not long ago, God told me to speak to an atheist friend about Jesus. I got nervous, wondering how on Earth I would convince my friend to believe. But then Jesus clarified something for me: he didn’t say, “Make her a Christian.” He said, “Speak to her about Me.”
It’s true that Jesus said, “Make disciples of all nations,” (Matthew 28:19), but he did not say, “Make disciples of every person on earth.” There’s a difference. Christians can come from anywhere, but not all will become Christians, as Jesus said himself (Matthew 7:14).
God never demands that we save people. We can’t do that. Only the Holy Spirit can convict, and only Jesus can save. We are messengers, not saviors. God is not pleased merely when we succeed in converting someone; he’s pleased when we obey. Again, look at Jesus, who could not convince the Pharisees, yet God was pleased with him (Matthew 3:17, Mark 1:11, Luke 3:22).
Do not think you’ve failed God when they laugh at you. Or when they kindly say, “It’s just not for me.” You haven’t failed God. If God told you to speak, and you did, then you obeyed, and He is pleased.
Ezekiel 3:17-19 says that if you know someone is in danger, but say nothing, their blood is on your hands. But if you say something and they do not listen, your hands are clean. We are all called to preach in some form or another, and to share our faith in the hopes that people will follow Jesus and find the life more abundant he intends for them. But don’t get caught up in proving people wrong. You may not have the ability to do so. And they may not listen. Or perhaps your role is simply to plant a seed that someone else will harvest, and you’ll never know it.
So rest easy, my friend. Take that heavy yoke off your neck and take Jesus’s light one of simple obedience. If the world says, “It’s up to you to prove Christianity to me,” rest in God, who says, “That’s my job. You just preach.”